“I admire the country’s vision of looking at the entrepreneur as a partner.”

Brazilian José Renato Hopf was part of a delegation of Brazilian investors who visited Uruguay and met with President Lacalle Pou.
Publication date: 26/01/2024

In a strategy to connect the technological ecosystems of Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, an outstanding delegation of 26 Brazilian entrepreneurs and investors visited Uruguay and participated in the Punta Tech Meetup, the most relevant technological conference of the southern summer.

The visit followed the previous mission of a Uruguayan delegation to Rio Grande do Sul’s Tech ecosystem. There, Uruguayan technology companies explored opportunities in the innovative technological environment of the Rio Grande do Sul region, facilitated by Uruguay XXI in collaboration with Cissa Lugris Klein of House Of Creativity (HOC), Uruguay Innovation Hub, and the Uruguayan Chamber of Information Technology.

The Brazilian entrepreneurs shared their impressions and perspectives on the Uruguayan technology ecosystem during their visit. They highlighted Uruguay’s strong technology industry and the opportunities for global openness offered to Brazilian companies operating as a strategic business hub in Latin America.

Strengthening ties between Uruguay and Brazil

During his stay in Uruguay, the founder of GetNet, the first Brazilian unicorn, investor and president of South Summit Brazil, José Renato Hopf, met with President Luis Lacalle Pou and highlighted his vision for Uruguay’s development.

“I greatly admire his vision, which always looks at freedom and democracy, how he looks at entrepreneurs and innovation. He connects these two points, which are very important for developing societies,” he stressed about the Uruguayan president.

“The technology market is naturally global, and this vision of the country to look at the entrepreneur as a partner and the importance of innovation in business is key to making a decision. The close relationship with leaders is not usual for us; this friendly manner is part of the Uruguayan culture. The closeness with authorities helps business a lot,” he added.

Hopf expressed his group’s interest in getting closer to Uruguay with the support of Uruguay XXI and Uruguay Innovation Hub. He plans to explore entertainment, tourism, sports, fintech, financial sector, and banking opportunities. “We hope to have a base for our operations in Uruguay. Brazil is a huge market, but to expand internationally, we must evaluate what we can do better from Uruguay,” he said.

In addition, he announced the intention to strengthen the relationship between Uruguay and Brazil through the South Summit Brazil event, providing a platform for Uruguayan companies to connect with investors and startups at an international level.

Uruguay as a point of international expansion

Uruguay is emerging as an attractive destination for Brazilian companies seeking to expand their operations and explore new business opportunities. With the strategy of consolidating business ties between Uruguay and Brazil, the Caldeira Institute, a non-profit business association that fosters Brazil’s innovation ecosystem, formalized an agreement with the Uruguay Innovation Hub.

Its executive director, Pedro Freitas Valério, stressed the importance of this pact and said: “The objective is to introduce Uruguayan startups to large Brazilian companies and to bring Brazilian companies, mainly technology companies, closer to the opportunities they have for business and opening a company in Uruguay.”

The business climate in Uruguay also plays a crucial role in this partnership. Valério stressed that Uruguay presents significant opportunities for Brazilian technology companies seeking to internationalize, especially in content production, audiovisual, advertising, and marketing. He also expressed that Uruguay is the first natural door that Brazilian companies should knock on to go out to other markets, thanks to cultural similarities, exchange capacity, and language management.

On the other hand, Sandro Cortezia, founder and CEO of Ventiur, one of the first accelerators in Brazil, shared his perspective on Uruguay as an optimal place for international expansion. He highlighted the quality of education as a critical factor. He pointed out that, although the Uruguayan economy is not very large, its young population’s intelligence, capacity, and knowledge have been fundamental for the development of startups.

Cortezia also highlighted Uruguay’s “unique characteristic for attracting investment.” “Uruguay offers a calmer environment, available resources, and greater willingness to take risks with investments,” he said.

Ventiur, with its network of 400 investors, sees Uruguay as a strategic entry hub for Latin American startups looking to enter Brazil and vice versa. The Uruguay Innovation Hub project caught Cortezia’s attention, and through its call for business accelerators, it saw an optimal means to accelerate its entry process in Uruguay.

“That project would allow us to start with an acceleration program in the short term and operate quickly from Uruguay. If this happens, great, but if not, we intend to structure a local investment vehicle in any way to use and enhance this resource in the country,” he said.

The delegation was also accompanied by Daniela Eckert, director of Tecnopuc Startups. Tecnopuc is a 20-year-old technology park that houses some 250 companies, half of which are startups. She pointed out that the most exciting thing about her visit to Uruguay was that it opened opportunities for Tecnopuc companies to meet Uruguayan companies and, through exchanges and connections, reach possible joint ventures.

“We have many companies that still operate only within Brazil, and this is an opportunity for both Brazilian and Uruguayan startups to find ways to internationalize,” said Eckert.

The director of Tecnopuc startups explained that companies in Brazil are born with a much greater market comfort than Uruguayan companies, which have already started thinking, at least in Mercosur or Latin America. “That experience and that mindset we lack in Brazil,” he said.

Tourism, entertainment, and innovation: investment opportunities

Manoela da Costa Moschem, CEO of Vila da Mônica Gramado and founder of the Holy investment group, highlighted the synergy between the activities of Uruguay XXI and the initiatives in which her group is involved, such as tourism, entertainment, and innovation. “We see many opportunities in Uruguay. Travelers come to Punta del Este because it is a city ready for tourism. I see that we can develop something similar to our headquarters in Gramado,” she expressed.

Holy’s CEO praised the business climate in Uruguay, highlighting the focus on innovation and the global vision of the population. She considered Uruguay a favorable place to develop entertainment and tourism projects, taking advantage of the similarities with the successful model implemented in Gramado, Brazil, which allowed deseasonalize tourism in that area.

"The business climate in Uruguay is perfect; it is growing, and people are very visionary. Uruguay understands that the secret is in the vision of the people. I have seen the growth and strength of Montevideo, with much investment and many synergies. We see an opportunity to find funds and entrepreneurs, and we have excellent prospects”, he closed.

The visit of the Brazilian delegation - composed of representatives of Assespro-RS, SEBRAE RS, Tecnopuc PUCRS, South Summit Brazil, Instituto Caldeira, 4all, VENTIUR, Grupo Holly Inversiones, Time Innovation, DB Services, Dambo Damboriarena, Grupo Horizonte and HOC - opened new opportunities for collaboration in the technological field for both countries. The words of the Brazilian entrepreneurs reflected their interest and admiration for the Uruguayan technology ecosystem, highlighting its potential for the creation of startups, the attraction of investment, and its unique international vision.

Uruguay, positioned as a top business center in the region, continues to attract the attention of international entrepreneurs and investors, consolidating itself as a strategic destination for expansion and collaboration in the technological field. The partnership between Uruguay XXI, Uruguay Innovation Hub, CUTI, and other vital players demonstrates Uruguay’s commitment to strengthening its ties with other regions and fostering innovation and technological development.

“Uruguay offers a calmer environment, available resources, and greater willingness to take risks with investments”. Sandro Cortezia